Chilly climate earlier than the 120th Audubon Christmas Fowl Rely season (2019/2020) resulted in most lakes properly frozen earlier than the counts and waterfowl scarce and subsequently total chicken numbers decreased. Climate additionally saved participant numbers down. This depend was a down 12 months for many species. Solely two species (Sharp-tailed Grouse and Pink-headed Woodpeckers) bucked the pattern and have been present in document numbers. Noteworthy finds included first depend information of a Northern Waterthrush on the Bloomington depend and Harlan’s subspecies of Pink-tailed Hawk on the Excelsior depend, in addition to a Lark Sparrow on the Mankato depend and a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the Duluth depend.
Eighty-two of 83 depend circles collected and reported information, a slight lower from final 12 months. One depend, Battle Lake, was canceled due to dangerous climate. A number of different counts have been rescheduled due to climate. Complete participation (1872) was down from the final two years, however simply above common, whereas the 485 feeder watchers have been beneath common for the final 5 years. Common participation of twenty-two.8 per depend was down 6.6% from final 12 months. Twelve counts had greater than 40 members, in comparison with 15, 11, and 14 over the past three years. Owatonna with a barely larger turnout than final 12 months, had essentially the most feeder watchers (90), and essentially the most complete members with 97. Henderson, like final 12 months, had 68 feeder watchers No different depend had even half that. 4 Metro counts had over 60 area surveyors (Excelsior 73, Bloomington 72, Afton 64, and St. Paul 60). The following highest within the state have been Minneapolis 46, Duluth 42, and the virtually road-less Isabella with 37, a few of which have been on skis or snowshoes. 9 different counts despatched out members on skis, snowshoes, and/or snowmobiles. As well as, one depend had surveyors out on ATVs. The common variety of area surveyors was 16.9, in comparison with 18.1 final 12 months. The common variety of feeder watchers was 5.9 in comparison with 6.26 final 12 months.
Whereas the seasonal snowfall for a lot of the state was inside 6” of historic averages, the 120th depend season may nonetheless be characterised as snowy, with all however six counts within the south reporting snow on the bottom and over half the counts having 6” or extra snow depth, compared to 14 final 12 months and 11 the 12 months earlier than. Duluth and NE Minnesota had larger than common snowfall, having been hit by a document snowfall to start with of December. A second main snowstorm blanketed a lot of the state on the finish of the month. 5 counts within the Northeast had 20 extra inches of snow. Lake ice fashioned early as a consequence of chilly circumstances in November. By early December even the bigger lakes had frozen over for the season. A barely larger proportion (84%) of the lakes have been frozen this 12 months vs final 12 months (82%).
The entire depend of birds (208,400) was the second lowest depend within the final ten years, solely edging out the 117th depend 12 months (2016/2017), when there have been 4 fewer depend circles. Two years in the past, the whole of Canada Geese and Mallards counted represented 54% of the whole variety of birds. Final 12 months they represented 25.5% of the whole, and this 12 months they solely represented 14.8%. Whereas final 12 months it took 5 species to account for half of the whole chicken depend, the low Canada Geese numbers this 12 months improve that to 6. The species depend (127) was the bottom species depend in 9 years, again when there have been solely 70 counts, versus this 12 months’s 82.
Solely 82 reviews (vs 147 final 12 months) have been uncommon sufficient or thought of troublesome IDs of unusual sightings that they required extra documentation. Solely 5 sightings on depend day weren’t accepted on account of insufficient or lacking documentation. Solely one of many non-accepted sightings was a species not discovered elsewhere within the state. This silent chicken, recognized as an Jap Meadowlark, was after evaluate, recorded as an undetermined meadowlark species.
Of the 25 species of waterfowl reported (in comparison with 27 and 28 species for the final two years) all however two (Frequent Goldeneye and Frequent Merganser) have been reported at beneath the ten-year common for the species. The 26,937 Canada Geese, our commonest depend chicken, have been 62.4% beneath the ten-year common, whereas the 17,073 Mallards, the fourth commonest depend chicken this 12 months, have been 31.8% beneath the ten-year common. Canada Geese have been concentrated in massive flocks with over 90% present in simply 9 counts. Mallards have been extra extensively distributed with solely 74% in 9 places. The sturdy numbers of Frequent Goldeneyes and Frequent Mergansers have been focused on the decrease St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers with 67.7% and 98.9% discovered there. Virtually 60% of the entire goldeneyes have been discovered on the Pink Wing depend. The strongly increasing Trumpeter Swans dropped to the bottom numbers in 5 years. Cackling Geese and Ring-necked Geese have been at their lowest numbers in eight years. No grebes have been reported for the primary time in over 30 years. American Coot numbers have been decrease than something reported for even longer. Three species of water dependent birds (cormorants, pelicans, herons, and kingfishers) have been discovered, however with considerably beneath common numbers. For the fourth 12 months no cormorants have been reported. A notable discover was a Belted Kingfisher on the Bluestem Prairie depend in Northwestern Minnesota. Water chicken numbers demonstrated the plain relationship: with much less open water, there might be fewer water birds.
The most typical upland recreation birds, Wild Turkey and Ring-necked Pheasant, have been extensively discovered (80% and 60% of the counts) in above common numbers. Sharp-tailed Grouse numbers have been the very best reported in depend historical past, whereas Spruce Grouse numbers, although small, have been the very best in over 20 years. Grey Partridge numbers have been very low, whereas the opposite grouse reviews have been inconclusive with excessive numbers of grouse species not recognized.
Bald Eagles have been reported in close to document numbers, persevering with a inhabitants progress that’s most simply seen within the winter when the eagles focus close to water. Whereas they have been discovered on all however two counts, 62% on their numbers have been within the one quarter of the counts in southeast Minnesota. The second commonest diurnal raptor, the Pink-tailed Hawk, was present in over 60% of the counts, however 66% have been concentrated within the southeast. The much less frequent hawks and eagles have been present in roughly common numbers, with the exceptions of Northern Harrier, the only chicken seen in Pipestone and the depend week chicken Lengthy Prairie, represented that species’ lowest depend in over 20 years. The 31 Cooper’s Hawks have been the bottom in ten years. A notable discover was a primary Minnesota depend document of a Harlan’s subspecies of Pink-tailed Hawk on the Excelsior depend.
The numbers of the commonest owls, Nice-horned and Barred, have been beneath common. Jap Screech and Nice Grey have been above common, though neither is frequent. Snowy Owls weren’t reported for the primary time since 1969. 4 different owl species have been reported in small numbers. American Kestrels have been present in common numbers. Peregrine Falcons and Merlins have been reported in small numbers. Notable finds included an American Kestrel in Roseau within the far northwest and a Merlin in Mountain Lake-Windom within the far southwest. Each have been exterior of the anticipated vary.
Final 12 months’s Herring and Ring-billed gull numbers have been characterised as “very low”. This 12 months they have been decrease, with Herring numbers the third lowest in 20 years, and Ring-bills on the second lowest in 20 years. Unusual gulls included 5 Iceland, one Thayer’s throughout depend week, three Glaucous, and solely the third Minnesota CBC document of a Lesser Black-backed (in Duluth). All of the gulls have been reported in seven counts by Lake Superior or close to the Mississippi River from Bloomington south.
All three species of doves have been reported at decrease than common numbers. Even Eurasian Collared-Doves, whose inhabitants had exploded 5 to 10 years in the past, had settled to decrease than the typical for the final 5 years. The frequent woodpeckers (Pink-bellied, Downy, Furry, Pileated) proceed to be discovered at properly above common numbers. Downies and Hairies have been discovered on each depend; Pileateds and Pink-bellieds every on all however 11 counts. A Pink-belly discovered on the Baudette depend in excessive northern Minnesota was reported in one of many final counties the place it isn’t thought of common. All 4 (plus two depend week) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker reviews have been in counties the place they’re sudden in winter. On the Mille Lacs South depend the sapsucker was a first-time winter county document. The 98 Pink-headed Woodpeckers reported at Cedar Creek Bathroom plus a further 12 birds, represented a brand new document for the Pink-heads on the Minnesota CBC, breaking the document of 84 set simply two years earlier and testifying to the success of the Pink-headed Woodpecker Restoration Program on the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Their excessive numbers have been attributed to good mast (acorns and nut) availability.
Winter area birds, among the many extra variable depend species, had combined numbers this 12 months. Horned Lark numbers have been about common for the final ten years. Widespread throughout the state in small numbers, 4 western counts accounted for nearly 60% of the numbers, with the Kensington depend in Douglas County, accounting for greater than half of that. Lapland Longspurs numbers have been method down. Present in small numbers in solely 14 counts, that they had the bottom numbers in 16 years. Snow Buntings have been about common in quantity. Though present in about half of the counts, seven western counts accounted for over 77% of the numbers.
American Crow numbers have been down for a second 12 months. Different corvid numbers have been larger, although corvids have but rebounded from the peaks within the 1990’s as indicated by chicken numbers when in comparison with the variety of observers. Blue Jays have been present in each depend and American Crows missed simply two. Canada Jay numbers bounce round on a transparent four-to-five 12 months growth and bust cycle and have rebounded from the nadir two years in the past. Magpies and ravens are clearly increasing their vary over the past ten years and now are discovered on roughly 20% and 50% of the counts respectively. A speculation that Blue Jay winter numbers have been depending on mast availability, like Pink-headed Woodpeckers, appears supported by each species properly correlated fluctuations over 9 of the final the final ten years on the Cedar Creek Bathroom depend.
Northern Shrike numbers have been again up from final 12 months, however too low and variable to notice any traits. Black-capped Chickadees, each nuthatches, and Brown Creepers have been all down from final 12 months’s document excessive ranges. All, however Pink-breasted Nuthatches fell beneath the ten-year common. Black-capped Chickadees have been discovered on all counts, whereas White-breasted Nuthatches have been missed on the identical two northern counts that included no crows. Tufted Titmouse numbers have been just like final 12 months’s common tallies, though the variety of counts reporting them dropped considerably. Golden-crowned Kinglet numbers rebounded from final 12 months’s low. Solely three Carolina Wrens have been reported. Not like final 12 months, all have been exterior the Metro space. Probably the most sudden was one on the St. Cloud depend.
American Robin and Jap Bluebird numbers fell from final 12 months’s document or close to document ranges to lower than half the ten-year common. Overwintering robins, which require liquid water, have extraordinarily variable numbers from 12 months to 12 months. Nevertheless, their winter vary is trending towards enlargement as they’re discovered on a better proportion of counts. Solely 4 different thrush household species have been recorded vs. final 12 months’s six; once more in small numbers. A Hermit Thrush on the Granite Falls depend and a Brown Thrasher on the Bemidji depend have been each first winter county information.
Bohemian Waxwing numbers crashed to the bottom report in 46 years, when there have been solely half as many counts. Over 85% have been discovered on the Roseau depend in far northwestern Minnesota. Cedar Waxwings have been unexpectedly additionally present in decrease than common numbers. Though widespread by the state, a few of the largest concentrations have been in northeastern Minnesota on three counts alongside Lake Superior which accounted for a couple of third of the depend. Starlings dropped from final 12 months’s document excessive to the bottom numbers in additional than 20 years. Home Sparrows have been barely above common in quantity. Each species are among the many most widespread and quite a few species within the state, regardless of important decline over the past 30 years. Apparently, whereas every was present in about 95% of the counts, the one two counts the place they each weren’t discovered have been the 2 counts that missed crows and White-breasted Nuthatches.
Darkish-eyed Junco and American Tree Sparrow numbers have been beneath common dropping for the third 12 months in a row. They accounted for over 99% of the 11 species of sparrow reported (down from 14 final 12 months). The opposite species numbers have been additionally principally low. Notable finds included: a Lark Sparrow on the Mankato depend, which was a second-time CBC and second-time winter document for Minnesota, a Noticed Towhee on the Little Falls depend, and Chipping Sparrows on the Pelican Rapids and Cottonwood counts.
All the blackbird species have been significantly beneath common. Moreover the Pink-winged Blackbirds and Frequent Grackles, the opposite 4 species had between one to 3 birds. The three cowbirds represented about 5% of the typical depend for the final 10 years. Two counts accounted for nearly 60% of the Pink-wings reported.
Northern Cardinals had virtually the identical numbers as final years. Their inhabitants is trending down, though their vary might be steady over the past 20 years. Whereas final 12 months had most finches seeing irruption peaks, this 12 months was a nadir 12 months. All finches have been beneath common, though the southern (American Goldfinch and Home Finch) finch counts weren’t down as a lot because the others. All the opposite finches, besides Pink Crossbills have been greater than 50 p.c beneath the ten-year common. Pine Grosbeaks have been virtually absent from Minnesota, present in small numbers on solely 4 counts, the bottom depend in over 50 years. For the primary time in 20 years, there have been fewer Pine Grosbeaks than Night Grosbeaks. White-winged Crossbills had the bottom depend in 20 years.
Solely two warblers have been reported: a Yellow-rumped Warbler and an sudden Northern Waterthrush on the Bloomington depend, which was a first-time CBC report and second winter document within the state.
A whole desk of the outcomes of the 120th Christmas Fowl Rely in Minnesota (consists of information from exterior of Minnesota from border counts) is accessible at: https://moumn.org/CBC/coordinator_yearend_table.php?12 months=2019&primary
For Minnesota solely information:
A desk displaying what sightings have been reviewed, what documentation was acquired, and whether or not reviews have been accepted is accessible for obtain at: